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Birdwalk Highlights for 4/20: Florida Lake Park -FALLOUT!

I usually refrain from going to the same place two weeks in a row, but Florida Lake Park in early spring is one of the more regular exceptions. With rain falling, I swung for the fences today - this was going to be hit or miss given the conditions and the timing of the arrival of precipitation. Well, we hit it out of the was just amazing.

But I was a little worried as we arrived in the parking lot and walked into the was slow, fairly quiet, and rain was continuing. Maybe the birds that were on the move last night finished their flight before the rain shield arrived. I even began to think about trying somewhere else.

And then we hit the pond edge. And, well, wow!

Warblers were everywhere! Some were foraging low at our feet, others passing by at eye level, more in trees, and wave after wave overhead: some heading south (re-determined migration?) while a wave of 60 were moving north (onward migration?). While the activity at the edges ebbed and flowed, we could always here warblers singing deeper in the woods. After additional consideration as I wrote this up, I adjusted my guesstimates to about 400+ PALM WARBLERS and 125+ YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, especially considering sample counts of birds as they crossed the lake. Regardless of the margin of error, the numbers were incredible and it was just an amazing show. It's really hard to describe just how awesome (in the actual meaning of the word!) this was.

While I thought I heard a Black-and-white Warbler at one point, the only other warbler species we confirmed were a total of 3 singing PINE WARBLERS, while other migrants amongst the masses included 6 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. 1 CHIPPING SPARROW sang from near the parking lot.

Secondary to the warbler show, but also impressive, was the swallow show: birds feeding in tight groups low to the water. Among 40-50 or so TREE SWALLOWS, we teased out 6 BARN SWALLOWS and our first NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW of the year. We also had a single CLIFF SWALLOW - normally quite rare this early and therefore likely part of a recent "overshoot" event from the previous storm.

A stately BALD EAGLE stood watch, while an OSPREY passed to and fro. Five RING-NECKED DUCKS were tarrying on the lake, but the only HOODED MERGANSER today was a lone fly-by hen. A BELTED KINGFISHER called as it flew by, a total of 6 EASTERN PHOEBES were working the edges of the lake, a NORTHERN FLICKER was foraging near the secret pond, and on our way out an EASTERN BLUEBIRD was seen and a PINE SISKIN was heard.

Interestingly enough, by the time we departed the rain had mostly tapered off, and with it, warbler activity was drastically reduced. We hit it perfectly! And this was one outing that will not be soon forgotten, and a reminded on why it's sometimes worth birding in the rain!

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